GREYHOUND Racing has once again come under fire by the ABC and Animals Australia after an apparent six month investigation into the alleged exportation of greyhounds into Asia.
Lyn White from Animals Australia declared “the sins of this industry have piled up” after the report, televised on Wednesday December 9, exposed the poor conditions faced by greyhounds at race venues in Macau, Vietnam and Shang Hai Zoo as well as other illegal and illicit gambling rings and racetracks across the continent.
The report focused its initial attention on the apparent network of traders, who are breaching racing rules in Australia by sending greyhounds overseas without receiving a Greyhounds Australasia passport.
Reporter Caro Meldrum-Hannah, who also led the ABC’s Four Corners investigation into live baiting, stated that “four trainers had been identified” in the practice, but interestingly only one party was named, with Steven and Mark Farrugia of the Glengarrie Racetrack alleged to have been exporting greyhounds without the required Greyhounds Australasia Passports as recently as two weeks ago.
The program aired following the announcement that Greyhound Racing New South Wales (GRNSW) had commenced an inquiry into the exportation of greyhounds following a three month investigation by the controlling body, with a number of participants expected to be called to attend hearings in the near future.
Currently, any person found to have exported a greyhound to an international jurisdiction (excluding New Zealand) without having satisfied the requirements of the rules, risk serious penalties including fines and suspension or disqualification from greyhound racing.
Also targeted in the 7:30 Report was former GRNSW Chief veterinarian and current Head veterinarian officer Dr. John Newell. It was mentioned in Wednesday night’s episode that the Vietnam racetrack “Ba Ria”, was set up with the support and involvement of Dr. Newell, however this was not the case.
Australian Racing Greyhound understands the Vietnam racetrack referred to in the report is actually named Lam Son and is approximately 30 minutes away from Ba Ria, the site of the apparent killing fields portrayed in the video vision.
The vision displayed greyhounds being disposed of and placed into large pits, while there was also footage of persons standing on greyhounds necks either to restrain or compromise their airways according to Professor Paul McGreevy.
The vision showed the dogs being injected with a poisonous solution, said to be a substance called Ecotraz which is generally used for tick and pest control on cattle. Professor McGreevy was visibly disturbed by the footage and followed on by stating “There is a clear association with considerable pain and I would go as far as saying it would be horrendous for them.”
It was clarified that Dr. Newell’s involvement in Vietnam stemmed from 2000 to 2008 through the World Greyhound Racing Federation (WGRF) where he was acting as a consultant.
The WGRF was designed as a platform to encourage and share racing values, animal welfare and veterinarian science technology to all countries that participated. The United Kingdom, USA, Ireland, Scotland, Sweden, Australia and Vietnam were all part of the WGRF scheme until funding ceased in 2008 and the organisation folded.
Dr. Newell’s involvement in Vietnam racing ceased after this time.
The report also stated that 168 greyhounds from January to August 2015 have been exported to Asia, without a required Greyhounds Australasia passport.
The report obtained these figures via the Freedom of Information Act regarding Exports and Agriculture and also stated an investigative Welfare Officer determined approximately one greyhound dies everyday at the Macau racetrack.
What the report failed to properly get across was Greyhounds Australasia (GA) has been lobbying the Federal Government since 2005 for changes to the exportation rules without success.
In 2013 GA placed a compulsory ban on exports to Macau, due to a number of concerns regarding welfare and integrity. Also in 2014 GA contacted Agriculture Minister Mr. Barnaby Joyce requesting stringent changes to exportation of greyhounds to Asia.
While appreciative of GA’s efforts to proactively address these issues, the minister believed the existing regulation under Export Control (Animals) Order 2004 was sufficient at the time.
The points listed above were mentioned towards the end of the 7.30 Report, but these facts do not support a Facebook post made by Animals Australia which said “She is another secret the greyhound industry desperately wanted to keep hidden”.
Current regulatory bodies across Australia have been extremely pro-active in the review of welfare and regulatory compliance since the live baiting scandal came to light in February this year. GRNSW has also established a Joint Working Group who along with current CEO Mr. Paul Newson will be presenting their submission to the Special Commission in January 2016.